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Thread: How long until we colonize the moon (continued)

  1. #61
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    http://theconversation.com/how-to-gr...d-planet-99943

    As the above article points out (and as does the movie The Martian, quite correctly), the key to colonizing a planet is to grow food on it, whether potatoes or anything else. The show of growing a plant on the Moon, even though not in lunar regolith, tends in the direction of colonization planning. It will be worth staying tuned to see what the Chinese do next. It doesn't matter in the long run who was first to land on a world. It matters who stays there.
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    As there has been renewed interest in Helium-3 mining on the Moon, here are a few resources to investigate it.

    ====

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2014cosp...40E1515K

    Feasibility of lunar Helium-3 mining

    Kleinschneider, Andreas; Van Overstraeten, Dmitry; Van der Reijnst, Roy; Van Hoorn, Niels; Lamers, Marvin; Hubert, Laurent; Dijk, Bert; Blangé, Joey; Hogeveen, Joel; De Boer, Lennaert; Noomen, Ron
    40th COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 2-10 August 2014, in Moscow, Russia, Abstract id. B0.1-58-14. (2014)

    With fossil fuels running out and global energy demand increasing, the need for alternative energy sources is apparent. Nuclear fusion using Helium-3 may be a solution. Helium-3 is a rare isotope on Earth, but it is abundant on the Moon. Throughout the space community lunar Helium-3 is often cited as a major reason to return to the Moon. Despite the potential of lunar Helium-3 mining, little research has been conducted on a full end-to-end mission. This abstract presents the results of a feasibility study conducted by students from Delft University of Technology. The goal of the study was to assess whether a continuous end-to-end mission to mine Helium-3 on the Moon and return it to Earth is a viable option for the future energy market. The set requirements for the representative end-to-end mission were to provide 10% of the global energy demand in the year 2040. The mission elements have been selected with multiple trade-offs among both conservative and novel concepts. A mission architecture with multiple decoupled elements for each transportation segment (LEO, transfer, lunar surface) was found to be the best option. It was found that the most critical element is the lunar mining operation itself. To supply 10% of the global energy demand in 2040, 200 tons of Helium-3 would be required per year. The resulting regolith mining rate would be 630 tons per second, based on an optimistic concentration of 20 ppb Helium-3 in lunar regolith. Between 1,700 to 2,000 Helium-3 mining vehicles would be required, if using University of Wisconsin's Mark III miner. The required heating power, if mining both day and night, would add up to 39 GW. The resulting power system mass for the lunar operations would be in the order of 60,000 to 200,000 tons. A fleet of three lunar ascent/descent vehicles and 22 continuous-thrust vehicles for orbit transfer would be required. The costs of the mission elements have been spread out over expected lifetimes. The resulting profits from Helium-3 fusion were calculated using a predicted minimum energy price in 2040 of 30.4 Euro/MWh. Annual costs are between 427.7 to 1,347.9 billion Euro, with annual expected profit ranging from -724.0 to 260.0 billion Euro. Due to the large scale of the mission, it has also been evaluated for providing 0.1% and 1% of the global energy demand in 2040. For 1%, the annual costs are 45.6 to 140.3 billion Euro and the expected annual profits are -78.0 to 23.1 billion Euro. For 0.1%, the annual costs are 7.7 to 20.5 billion Euro. The annual expected profits are -14.3 to -0.8 billion Euro. Feasibility has been addressed in three aspects. Technically, the mission is extremely challenging and complex. However, most required technologies exist or could be developed within a reasonable time span. From a political and legal perspective, the current international treaties hardly provide any framework for a lunar mining operation. Financially, the mission only produces a net profit in the best case, and only for medium- to large-scale operations, which require a very large initial investment. To make lunar Helium-3 usage possible, further research should concentrate on the mining operation and costs of fusion plants, as their impact by far outranks all other mission elements. Different transportation concepts may be investigated nevertheless. Many - not only technical - challenges concerning Helium-3 mining are still to be addressed. Although only a starting point for further investigations, this study shows that, despite popular claims, lunar Helium-3 is unsuitable to provide a significant percentage of the global energy demand in 2040.

    =====

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/1999SoSyR..33..338T

    Helium-3 on the Moon for Fusion Energy: the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century

    Taylor, L. A.; Kulcinski, G. L.
    Solar System Research, vol. 33, p. 338 (1999)

    At the present and anticipated usage rates of energy in the world, the reserves of oil and natural gas will be exhausted by the mid-21st century, with coal reserves lasting up to 50 years more. But there is 10 times more 3He fusion energy on the Moon than in all these Earthly reserves. The potential use of D-3He fusion for energy generation requires a ready supply of 3He, and there is a distinct paucity of this fuel on Earth. However, compared to the Earth, the Moon is a virtual "oasis with springs of solar-wind helium." Conservative estimates of the helium contents of the regolith on a Moon-wide basis are 3.7 ppb (6.7 mg/m3) of 3He for the highland areas and 7.8 ppb (14 mg/m3) for the maria. At the 1998 energy consumption rate and a 50% mining recovery rate, there is sufficient 3He in the upper 3 meters of only the maria of the Moon to supply the entire energy needs of the Earth for over a thousand years. The potential for greatly enhanced supplies of 3He at the lunar poles may make the utilization of this energy-generation process even more attractive.

    =====

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/1990LPSC...20..249H
    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/n...;filetype=.pdf (full paper)

    Ilmenite-rich Pyroclastic Deposits: An Ideal Lunar Resource
    B.R. Hawke, C.R. Combs, B. Clark (1990)
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  3. #63
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    Perhaps the main articles point this out, but I don't see where either of those abstracts point out that D-He3 (Deuterium-Helium 3) fusion power reactors have not been shown to be feasible, and there is no guarantee that they will ever be feasible. For that matter, no fusion power reactor has yet been shown to be feasible, even using the much easier D-T reaction. (Nor does one automatically lead to the other: D-T power reactor feasibility ≠ D-He3 reactor feasibility).

    Also, if you could do D-He3 fusion in a power reactor, you could do D-D fusion. He3 is a "waste" product of D-D fusion, and deuterium is plentiful (relatively speaking) on Earth, so Earth based D-D reactors could be a competing source for the product.

    I can see where it would be interesting to get a better idea of the availability of He3 on the moon, and look more seriously into the feasibility of mining, but the only established economic use for He3 is in a type of radiation detector, and there are alternatives for that, so it's really only just something that would be nice to know, not a question of any real urgency.

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  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by ciderman View Post
    As I mentioned in another thread, not anymore, I'm afraid. Also, I think there is a translation issue there. They say:

    The canister was fully concealed from the extremes of temperature and strong radiation on the moon. Chinese scientists designed tubes for the canister to take natural Earth light to the moon for the plants to aid photosynthesis.
    But according to this article:

    https://www.newsweek.com/moon-plants...cotton-1294184

    The canister was not designed to keep the canister warm during the lunar night (so not "fully concealed from extremes of temperature"), and everything froze according to the head person running the experiment. Also, by "designed tubes for the canister to take natural Earth light to the moon" I expect they mean the canister received filtered sunlight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    As I mentioned in another thread, not anymore, I'm afraid. Also, I think there is a translation issue there. They say:



    But according to this article:

    https://www.newsweek.com/moon-plants...cotton-1294184

    The canister was not designed to keep the canister warm during the lunar night (so not "fully concealed from extremes of temperature"), and everything froze according to the head person running the experiment. Also, by "designed tubes for the canister to take natural Earth light to the moon" I expect they mean the canister received filtered sunlight.
    You are correct. This article says it originally planned to have batteries but due to weight constrain it was omitted.

    https://gbtimes.com/lunar-nighttime-...cotton-sprouts

    The Chang'e-4 biosphere experiment which produced the sprouting of cotton seeds on the far side of the Moon has ended, according to scientists involved in the pioneering test.

    Images released on Tuesday and taken on January 7, show a sprouting of cotton seeds in the lunar canister within a 2.6 kg mini biosphere aboard the Chang'e-4 lander, with the development receiving global coverage. Meanwhile, sprouts in an Earth-based control experiment were shown to be evidently performing much better.

    The canister is aboard the Chang'e-4 lander which made its historic landing on the far side of the Moon on January 3, with the experiment initiated hours after landing.

    Along with cotton, five other species—seeds of rapeseed, potato and Arabidopsis, fruit fly eggs and yeast—were also aboard, but neither images nor clear reports on these have been released.

    It is clear however that all six species involved in the experiment will have become frozen after the onset of lunar nighttime on at the landing site in Von Kármán crater on January 13 as, with no power supply, the temperatures quickly dropped below zero degrees Celsius and could fall as low as -180 degrees C.
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  6. #66
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    Ah, thanks, that article explains the issue more clearly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    YMMV, but I am adding it up as, China searches for Helium 3, water ice, ability to grow stuff under lunar gravity. China aims to mine and colonize Moon. Seems basic.
    I would say more that China is a huge country with a growing economic base and the ability to throw lots of money around, so doing this kind of moonshot research makes some sense. As was pointed out, there isn’t a clear road ahead for helium 3, but why not investigate, just in case?
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  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Ah, thanks, that article explains the issue more clearly.
    Additional information, saying the aim of this particular experiment was the popularization of science.

    http://www.ecns.cn/news/sci-tech/201...n4077086.shtml

    The team also hinted that the experiment is not as ambitious as some thought.

    "The main purpose was the popularization of science," said Liu Hanlong, the leader of the experiment and deputy head of the Chongqing University.

    The purpose was written in the official name of the payload in Chinese. But the "science popularization" part got lost in translation as the name is longer than usual.

    "We want to attract more people into space exploration with this experiment," Liu added.

    The idea of a biological payload was selected from 257 suggestions collected from high school and college students in 2016. This can also serve as a proof that the original purpose of the payload was for promotion of science.
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  9. #69
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    The CSNA has got to get a better PR department.

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    "theconversation" carries an article "How realistic are China’s plans to build a research station on the Moon?". Their view -
    Absolutely. Can human beings survive on the Moon and other planets for the long term? The answer to that is less clear.

    What is certain is that China will use the next 10 to 15 years to develop the requisite technical capabilities for conducting manned lunar missions and set the stage for space exploration.
    https://theconversation.com/how-real...he-moon-109942

    The world is still celebrating the historic landing of China’s Chang’e-4 on the dark side of the moon on January 3. This week, China announced its plans to follow up with three more lunar missions, laying the groundwork for a lunar base.

    Colonising the Moon, and beyond, has always being a human aspiration. Technological advancements, and the discovery of a considerable source of water close to the lunar poles, has made this idea even more appealing.

    But how close is China to actually achieving this goal?

    If we focus on the technology currently available, China could start building a base on the Moon today.
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  11. #71
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    China and Russia to jointly research and develop lunar and Martian programs in the future.

    http://english.cas.cn/newsroom/china...7_204170.shtml

    Chinese and Russian scientists will work together to explore water and ice on the moon, according to a Russian scientist.

    Vladimir Khmelyov, a professor at the Altai State Technical University, said on Tuesday that the ultrasonic drilling project has won financing from Russia's Fundamental Research Fund and China's National Natural Science Fund.

    In this project, the scientists will explore and develop the physical principles of the ultrasonic drilling of extraterrestrial surfaces to discover water and ice, including on the far side of the moon and on Mars, which will help develop lunar and Martian research in the future, Russia's Tass News Agency reported.

    "The project is designed for two years," said Khmelyov. "It relates to joint work: We will carry out preliminary research for the Chinese side to study the process of ultrasonic drilling."

    The professor said the project means a lot for the exploration of underground water on the moon, because in the current missions, holes on the moon and Mars were drilled by ordinary, mechanical devices, which cause strong heat, and water and other volatile materials evaporate.

    "Ultrasonic drilling is quite delicate and it should keep water and ice intact and will help us discover the presence of water on the moon or under the lunar surface," he said.
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  12. #72
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    Leonard David has an article in the latest Scientific American titled "Farside Politics: The West Eyes Moon Cooperation with China"

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...on-with-china/

    Scientists and policy makers in the U.S. and Europe are seeking new ways to work with China on its ambitious lunar exploration program
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  13. #73
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    The solar wind helps create the components for water on the Moon -- and we can get at it. Colonizing the Moon looks better every week.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-02-ingred...l-factory.html

    Ingredients for water could be made on surface of moon, a chemical factory
    February 20, 2019, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

    When a stream of charged particles known as the solar wind careens onto the Moon's surface at 450 kilometers per second (or nearly 1 million miles per hour), they enrich the Moon's surface in ingredients that could make water, NASA scientists have found. Using a computer program, scientists simulated the chemistry that unfolds when the solar wind pelts the Moon's surface. As the Sun streams protons to the Moon, they found, those particles interact with electrons in the lunar surface, making hydrogen (H) atoms. These atoms then migrate through the surface and latch onto the abundant oxygen (O) atoms bound in the silica (SiO2) and other oxygen-bearing molecules that make up the lunar soil, or regolith. Together, hydrogen and oxygen make the molecule hydroxyl (OH), a component of water, or H2O.
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    Maybe asteroids would be more favourable candidate factories.

    From your link:

    "A key ramification of the result, Farrell said, is that every exposed body of silica in space—from the Moon down to a small dust grain—has the potential to create hydroxyl and thus become a chemical factory for water.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-02-ingred...ctory.html#jCp
    "

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    This weeks Space Review carries the article "The Moonrush has begun"

    The comment in the article - On February 21, the first mission of the Moonrush embarked aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.- is slightly off the mark. It was Chang'e 4 in December 2018. The next one will be by India. But I can give him the benefit of the doubt, as he might be looking at commercial companies.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3668/1

    The California gold rush was kicked off in 1848 by the discovery of gold in California. Fortune hunters came in droves. Only a small percentage of the miners became wealthy from this and the other gold rushes of the 19th century. But many others became wealthy by providing the settlers with transportation infrastructure, housing, supplies, and bordellos.

    Space engineer and entrepreneur Dennis Wingo coined the term “Moonrush” in 2004 in his excellent book Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon’s Resources (see “Review: Moonrush”, The Space Review, August 16, 2004) The Moonrush is now on, fueled by entrepreneurs dreaming of profits from Earth’s nearest neighbor. Leading the Moonrush are a bunch of private companies developing small lunar landers and rovers to explore the Moon.

    On February 21, the first mission of the Moonrush embarked aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The Beresheet lunar lander built by Israel’s SpaceIL was launched as a secondary payload, sharing the ride with the Indonesian communications satellite PSN-6. After reaching geostationary transfer orbit, Beresheet and the communications satellite separated from the Falcon 9 launcher. The communications satellite will propel itself to geostationary Earth orbit. Meanwhile, Beresheet is slowly raising its orbit. In early April the spacecraft will enter lunar orbit, then land on the Moon. Israel Aerospace Industries, the company that built the lander for SpaceIL, announced plans in January to partner with the German company OHB to offer a commercial lunar payload delivery service to the European Space Agency.
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  16. #76
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    https://phys.org/news/2019-03-moon.html

    Interesting article with artwork discussing the future of lunar mining.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    New data on water on the moon, gives hope for manned missions to the moon.

    http://www.leonarddavid.com/new-data...le-affordable/

    n instrument onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) indicates that water molecules scattered on the surface of the Moon are more common at higher latitudes and tend to hop around as the surface heats up.

    “These results aid in understanding the lunar water cycle and will ultimately help us learn about accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions to the Moon,” said Amanda Hendrix, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.
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  18. #78
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    The Moon has a molten iron core.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-04-temper...on-reveal.html

    Researcher calculates temperature inside moon to help reveal its inner structure
    by University of Rhode Island

    Little is known about the inner structure of the Moon, but a major step forward was made by a University of Rhode Island scientist who conducted experiments that enabled her to determine the temperature at the boundary of the Moon's core and mantle. Professor Ananya Mallik found the temperature to be between 1,300 and 1,470 degrees Celsius, which is at the high end of an 800 degree range that previous scientists had determined.
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    YES! On the right track here. Good going, Japan.

    https://www.space.com/japan-robots-build-moon-base.html

    Can Robots Build a Moon Base for Astronauts? Japan Hopes to Find Out.
    By Elizabeth Howell a day ago Tech

    Japan's space agency wants to create a moon base with the help of robots that can work autonomously, with little human supervision. The project, which has racked up three years of research so far, is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the construction company Kajima Corp., and three Japanese universities: Shibaura Institute of Technology, The University of Electro-Communications and Kyoto University.
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    "Meteoroid Strikes Eject Precious Water From Moon"

    https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/g...ee-lunar-water

    Researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.

    The findings will help scientists understand the history of lunar water — a potential resource for sustaining long term operations on the Moon and human exploration of deep space. Models had predicted that meteoroid impacts could release water from the Moon as a vapor, but scientists hadn’t yet observed the phenomenon.

    Now, the team has found dozens of these events in data collected by NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. LADEE was a robotic mission that orbited the Moon to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere, and determine whether dust is lofted into the lunar sky.
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    How many entities do you think that have their eyes on the moon. 3,4 5,??? Read on and find the answer.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/s...a-india-japan/

    From governments to grassroots startups, these are some of the most promising players who have announced lunar missions in the coming years.
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  22. #82
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    Now some engineers want to use a tunnel boring machine to build habitats on the moon.

    http://www.moondaily.com/reports/Lun...onies_999.html

    As space agencies prepare to return humans to the Moon, top engineers are racing to design a tunnel boring machine capable of digging underground colonies for the first lunar inhabitants.
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  23. #83
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    Will we have to "moonquake-proof" our lunar habitats? How powerful can a moonquake get?

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/s...lo-moonquakes/

    The moon may be tectonically active, and geologists are shaken (my admiration for this title knows no bounds)
    A new look at Apollo-era seismic data revealed that the moon's insides might be warmer than scientists thought possible.

    By Adam Mann

    In a study out today in Nature Geoscience, researchers may have finally pinpointed the epicenters of mysterious moonquakes recorded by Apollo-era seismometers, and the tremors seem to originate from cliff-like features called fault scarps.

    “The whole idea that a 4.6-billion-year-old rocky body like the moon has managed to stay hot enough in the interior and produce this network of faults just flies in the face of conventional wisdom,” says study coauthor Thomas Watters of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
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    More info on moonquakes: they can get up to 5.0 or thereabouts on the Richter scale.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-05-moon-quaking.html

    The moon is quaking as it shrinks
    by University of Maryland

    A 2010 analysis of imagery from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) found that the moon shriveled like a raisin as its interior cooled, leaving behind thousands of cliffs called thrust faults on the moon's surface. A new analysis suggests that the moon may still be shrinking today and actively producing moonquakes along these thrust faults. A team of researchers including Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland, designed a new algorithm to re-analyze seismic data from instruments placed by NASA's Apollo missions in the 1960s and '70s. Their analysis provided more accurate epicenter location data for 28 moonquakes recorded from 1969 to 1977. The team then superimposed this location data onto the LRO imagery of the thrust faults. Based on the quakes' proximity to the thrust faults, the researchers found that at least eight of the quakes likely resulted from true tectonic activity—the movement of crustal plates—along the thrust faults, rather than from asteroid impacts or rumblings deep within the moon's interior.
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    Aluminum and oxygen is sometimes touted as the fuel of the future for any Lunar settlers or workers to fly with. I don't think it's a good choice. Processing the stuff into rocket fuel is non-trivial. The large amount energy required to separate the aluminum oxide in the Moon's surface into its component elements can surely be put to better use elsewhere. IIRC the aluminum separation process requires large amounts of elements rare in the Lunar crust, as well as water.
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    "GIANT IMPACT CAUSED DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOON’S HEMISPHERES"

    https://news.agu.org/press-release/g...s-hemispheres/

    The stark difference between the Moon’s heavily-cratered farside and the lower-lying open basins of the Earth-facing nearside has puzzled scientists for decades.

    Now, new evidence about the Moon’s crust suggests the differences were caused by a wayward dwarf planet colliding with the Moon in the early history of the solar system. A report on the new research has been published in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

    The mystery of the Moon’s two faces began in the Apollo era when the first views of its farside revealed the surprising differences. Measurements made by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission in 2012 filled in more details about the structure of the Moon — including how its crust is thicker and includes an extra layer of material on its farside.
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    A collection of articles on lunar colonization with nuclear power, to include mining the Moon for Helium-3 for nuclear fusion plants. Have no idea how viable this is, but it is a theme that keeps popping up in the literature.

    ===

    (PDF/very short) http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/n...;filetype=.pdf

    In Situ Resources for Lunar Base Applications
    Benaroya, Haym
    Workshop on Using In Situ Resources for Construction of Planetary Outposts, p. 21 (01/1998)

    Lunar resources have been cited either as an economic driver to justify a return to the Moon or as being useful in the creation and maintenance of a lunar civilization. Except for He3 as a fusion fuel, the former is unlikely.

    ===

    (PDF/7 pages) http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/n...;filetype=.pdf

    Lunar Base Design And Operation Study I (LB-DAOS I)
    Imhof, Barbara; Mohanty, Susmita; Rombaut, Hans Jurgen; von Susante, Paul J.; Volp, Jim
    Earth-like planets and moons. Proceedings of the 36th ESLAB Symposium, 3 - 8 June 2002, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands. Eds.: B. Foing, B. Battrick. ESA SP-514, Noordwijk: ESA Publications Division, ISBN 92-9092-824-7, 2002, p. 335 - 341
    Publication Date: 10/2002

    This paper focuses on the actual case studies - scenarios of the Lunar Base Design And Operation Study I (LB-DAOS I) for further lunar exploration. The study started with the Lunar Base Design Workshop, a two-week programme conducted in cooperation with ESA-ESTEC, held from June 10-21, 2002. Initially three scenarios considered as the most relevant for further Human Lunar exploration with a permanent Lunar outpost were investigated: 1-Scenario: Lunar Telescope Mission. 2-Scenario: Lunar Solar Power Factory Mission. 3-Scenario: Lunar Ice Mission. These case studies developed into six different mission scenarios including ice mining, solar cell production, lunar telescopes, He3 mining, research and commercial operations. Each of these scenarios ranging from initial small scale scientific research outposts to commercial larger bases focussed on a timeframe between 2020 to 2090 to establish permanent habitats on the lunar surface.

    ===

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2003AIPC..654..429P

    MITEE-B: A Compact Ultra Lightweight Bi-Modal Nuclear Propulsion Engine for Robotic Planetary Science Missions
    Powell, James; Maise, George; Paniagua, John; Borowski, Stanley
    SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS INT.FORUM-STAIF 2003: Conf.on Thermophysics in Microgravity; Commercial/Civil Next Generation Space Transportation; Human Space Exploration. AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 654, pp. 429-437 (2003). (AIPC Homepage)

    Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) enables unique new robotic planetary science missions that are impossible with chemical or nuclear electric propulsion systems. A compact and ultra lightweight bi-modal nuclear engine, termed MITEE-B (MInature ReacTor EnginE - Bi-Modal) can deliver 1000's of kilograms of propulsive thrust when it operates in the NTP mode, and many kilowatts of continuous electric power when it operates in the electric generation mode. The high propulsive thrust NTP mode enables spacecraft to land and takeoff from the surface of a planet or moon, to hop to multiple widely separated sites on the surface, and virtually unlimited flight in planetary atmospheres. The continuous electric generation mode enables a spacecraft to replenish its propellant by processing in-situ resources, provide power for controls, instruments, and communications while in space and on the surface, and operate electric propulsion units. Six examples of unique and important missions enabled by the MITEE-B engine are described, including: (1) Pluto lander and sample return; (2) Europa lander and ocean explorer; (3) Mars Hopper; (4) Jupiter atmospheric flyer; (5) SunBurn hypervelocity spacecraft; and (6) He3 mining from Uranus. Many additional important missions are enabled by MITEE-B. A strong technology base for MITEE-B already exists. With a vigorous development program, it could be ready for initial robotic science and exploration missions by 2010 AD. Potential mission benefits include much shorter in-space times, reduced IMLEO requirements, and replenishment of supplies from in-situ resources.

    ===

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/1999SoSyR..33..338T

    Helium-3 on the Moon for Fusion Energy: the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century
    Taylor, L. A.; Kulcinski, G. L.
    Solar System Research, vol. 33, p. 338 (1999) (SoSyR Homepage)

    At the present and anticipated usage rates of energy in the world, the reserves of oil and natural gas will be exhausted by the mid-21st century, with coal reserves lasting up to 50 years more. But there is 10 times more 3He fusion energy on the Moon than in all these Earthly reserves. The potential use of D-3He fusion for energy generation requires a ready supply of 3He, and there is a distinct paucity of this fuel on Earth. However, compared to the Earth, the Moon is a virtual "oasis with springs of solar-wind helium." Conservative estimates of the helium contents of the regolith on a Moon-wide basis are 3.7 ppb (6.7 mg/m3) of 3He for the highland areas and 7.8 ppb (14 mg/m3) for the maria. At the 1998 energy consumption rate and a 50% mining recovery rate, there is sufficient 3He in the upper 3 meters of only the maria of the Moon to supply the entire energy needs of the Earth for over a thousand years. The potential for greatly enhanced supplies of 3He at the lunar poles may make the utilization of this energy-generation process even more attractive.

    ===

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/1992lbsa.conf..609L

    Lunar surface mining for automated acquisition of helium-3: Methods, processes, and equipment
    Li, Y. T.; Wittenberg, L. J.
    In NASA. Johnson Space Center, The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, Volume 2 p 609-617 (SEE N93-13972 03-91)
    Publication Date: 09/1992

    In this paper, several techniques considered for mining and processing the regolith on the lunar surface are presented. These techniques have been proposed and evaluated based primarily on the following criteria: (1) mining operations should be relatively simple; (2) procedures of mineral processing should be few and relatively easy; (3) transferring tonnages of regolith on the Moon should be minimized; (4) operations outside the lunar base should be readily automated; (5) all equipment should be maintainable; and (6) economic benefit should be sufficient for commercial exploitation. The economic benefits are not addressed in this paper; however, the energy benefits have been estimated to be between 250 and 350 times the mining energy. A mobile mining scheme is proposed that meets most of the mining objectives. This concept uses a bucket-wheel excavator for excavating the regolith, several mechanical electrostatic separators for beneficiation of the regolith, a fast-moving fluidized bed reactor to heat the particles, and a palladium diffuser to separate H2 from the other solar wind gases. At the final stage of the miner, the regolith 'tailings' are deposited directly into the ditch behind the miner and cylinders of the valuable solar wind gases are transported to a central gas processing facility. During the production of He-3, large quantities of valuable H2, H2O, CO, CO2, and N2 are produced for utilization at the lunar base. For larger production of He-3 the utilization of multiple-miners is recommended rather than increasing their size. Multiple miners permit operations at more sites and provide redundancy in case of equipment failure.

    ===

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2014cosp...40E1515K

    Feasibility of lunar Helium-3 mining
    Kleinschneider, Andreas; Van Overstraeten, Dmitry; Van der Reijnst, Roy; Van Hoorn, Niels; Lamers, Marvin; Hubert, Laurent; Dijk, Bert; Blangé, Joey; Hogeveen, Joel; De Boer, Lennaert; Noomen, Ron
    40th COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 2-10 August 2014, in Moscow, Russia, Abstract id. B0.1-58-14.

    With fossil fuels running out and global energy demand increasing, the need for alternative energy sources is apparent. Nuclear fusion using Helium-3 may be a solution. Helium-3 is a rare isotope on Earth, but it is abundant on the Moon. Throughout the space community lunar Helium-3 is often cited as a major reason to return to the Moon. Despite the potential of lunar Helium-3 mining, little research has been conducted on a full end-to-end mission. This abstract presents the results of a feasibility study conducted by students from Delft University of Technology. The goal of the study was to assess whether a continuous end-to-end mission to mine Helium-3 on the Moon and return it to Earth is a viable option for the future energy market. The set requirements for the representative end-to-end mission were to provide 10% of the global energy demand in the year 2040. The mission elements have been selected with multiple trade-offs among both conservative and novel concepts. A mission architecture with multiple decoupled elements for each transportation segment (LEO, transfer, lunar surface) was found to be the best option. It was found that the most critical element is the lunar mining operation itself. To supply 10% of the global energy demand in 2040, 200 tons of Helium-3 would be required per year. The resulting regolith mining rate would be 630 tons per second, based on an optimistic concentration of 20 ppb Helium-3 in lunar regolith. Between 1,700 to 2,000 Helium-3 mining vehicles would be required, if using University of Wisconsin's Mark III miner. The required heating power, if mining both day and night, would add up to 39 GW. The resulting power system mass for the lunar operations would be in the order of 60,000 to 200,000 tons. A fleet of three lunar ascent/descent vehicles and 22 continuous-thrust vehicles for orbit transfer would be required. The costs of the mission elements have been spread out over expected lifetimes. The resulting profits from Helium-3 fusion were calculated using a predicted minimum energy price in 2040 of 30.4 Euro/MWh. Annual costs are between 427.7 to 1,347.9 billion Euro, with annual expected profit ranging from -724.0 to 260.0 billion Euro. Due to the large scale of the mission, it has also been evaluated for providing 0.1% and 1% of the global energy demand in 2040. For 1%, the annual costs are 45.6 to 140.3 billion Euro and the expected annual profits are -78.0 to 23.1 billion Euro. For 0.1%, the annual costs are 7.7 to 20.5 billion Euro. The annual expected profits are -14.3 to -0.8 billion Euro. Feasibility has been addressed in three aspects. Technically, the mission is extremely challenging and complex. However, most required technologies exist or could be developed within a reasonable time span. From a political and legal perspective, the current international treaties hardly provide any framework for a lunar mining operation. Financially, the mission only produces a net profit in the best case, and only for medium- to large-scale operations, which require a very large initial investment. To make lunar Helium-3 usage possible, further research should concentrate on the mining operation and costs of fusion plants, as their impact by far outranks all other mission elements. Different transportation concepts may be investigated nevertheless. Many - not only technical - challenges concerning Helium-3 mining are still to be addressed. Although only a starting point for further investigations, this study shows that, despite popular claims, lunar Helium-3 is unsuitable to provide a significant percentage of the global energy demand in 2040.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  28. #88
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    I include the following paper with doubts and reservations. We might mine nuclear fuel from various asteroids, moons, Centaurs, etc. (not Jupiter itself), and transport it back to lunar colonies, so this might have a use.

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2008AIPC..969..245K

    Transportation and Power Requirements for He3 Mining of the Jovian Planets
    Kammash, Terry; Tang, Ricky
    SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS INTERNATIONAL FORUM-STAIF 2008: 12th Conference on Thermophysics Applications in Microgravity; 1st Symposium on Space Resource Utilization; 25th Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion; 6th Conference on Human/Robotic Technology and the Vision for Space Exploration; 6th Symposium on Space Colonization; 5th Symposium on New Frontiers and Future Concept. AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 969, pp. 245-251 (2008). (AIPC Homepage)

    A bi-modal fusion propulsion system that can be used for transportation to and the mining of He3 from the Jovian planets is proposed. It consists of the Gasdynamic Mirror (GDM) fusion reactor which is analyzed for utilization as a propulsion device, as well as for use as a surface power system. The fusion reactions in the device are initiated by the heating provided by the fission fragments and the annihilation products produced by the ``at rest'' annihilation of antiprotons in uranium U238 target nuclei. The energetic pions and muons of the antiproton-proton (or neutron) annihilation in the U238 nucleus can heat a suitable fusion fuel to several keV temperature during their short lifetime, while the remaining heating to ignition is provided by the fission fragments. We examine the use of such a system to travel to Jupiter, for instance, to mine the He3 which is known to exist to the tune of 350 trillion tons in its atmosphere. Such a rich source of this isotope can readily meet the needs of a fusion-powered global industrial energy consumption estimated at 5400 tons annually, for an indefinite length of time. Although He3 exists to a much lesser degree in the lunar regolith, the power requirements for its extraction, estimated at 270 GJ per kg, may render its economic viability very much in question. It is suggested that mining the planets at a power requirement 30 times less than its lunar counterpart may be more desirable in spite of the distances involved, if a reasonably rapid transportation system can be devised. In its propulsive mode, the GDM device is shown to be capable of traveling to Jupiter and bringing back the annual world need of He3 in about six months. Based on such performance, it is quite reasonable to envision a space tanker employing the proposed propulsion system to fly from Earth to the outer planet of choice, spend a period of time in the planet's atmosphere extracting He3, or loading it from an extractor plant already in place, and then return to Earth with its cargo. It will also be shown that, in its power mode, the GDM system is capable of producing enough electric power to support colonization, and the amount of antiprotons needed will be well within the projected production rate of the next two decades.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  29. #89
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    Mining anything nuclear on Luna is lunacy (see what I did there?). The uranium is less concentrated than in Terrestrial granite. Helium 3 even less so. And we can make He3 far more easily and cheaply than we can ever mine it, if someday in the future it ever becomes useful to us (right now all it's good for is filling party balloons).

    ADDED: We should IMO concentrate on building solar, and better power storage for the Moon. Somewhere I read about building power cells out of regolith, but IIRC they were pretty inefficient.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-May-21 at 01:53 PM.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  30. #90
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    Mining water from regolith might be possible after all, but there probably won't be a lot of it.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-05-formation-moon.html
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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